Land Recovery Initiative
Elaine Cain's Story
Elaine Cain is trying to get legal title to family land on Simmons Road in North Preston.
She and her father Wylie Cain say the land has been in their family for hundreds of years, but family members never had legal title.
She paid $4000 to have the acre of land surveyed and has had to collect family documents, photos and tax records going back many years to make the case for the land on which she was born.
She put in an application under the Land Title Clarifications Act in 2013. It's the second time she's filed an application and she says she has no idea when she'll hear about whether or not her application is successful.
Members of the North Preston Land Title Clarification Committee say they're hopeful that things are finally going to get resolved.
They're determined to educate people in their community about the importance of proper title in order to preserve and grow their community. They say as education is growing, so is the momentum around this issue.
And there are some signs they now have the ear of the provincial government.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says it has recently started a pilot project to take another look at the land title clarification process and help residents through it, though a spokesperson wouldn't go into detail.
We requested on-camera interviews with officials from DNR, including acting minister Zack Churchill, but our requests were denied. A statement from a spokesperson says in part:
"A lack of clarity around land title can be frustrating to residents as it affects their ability to use, develop, and enjoy their land. People with clear title to their land can have taxes dealt with properly, among other things. It’s still fairly early in the process and, as time passes, this project will more fully develop and unfold. As it is early in the process, and upon further consideration, we think it may be inappropriate to comment in an interview at this time."
Bruce Nunn, Media Relations Advisor, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
Lawrence Hill is an author of ten books, including The Illegal and The Book of Negroes, winner of various awards including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and CBC Radio’s Canada Reads.
Much of his writing focuses on issues of identity and belonging.
Hill is also a member of the Council of Patrons of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society in Birchtown, Nova Scotia.